By Matthew Pillar, Editor-in-Chief, BioProcess Online
Historically, vaccines have not been part of Biocon’s $ 70 billion biosimilar and new biologic portfolios.
At Serum Institute Life Sciences (SILS), biosimilars and new biologics haven’t always been a part of its billion dollar vaccine portfolio.
But COVID-19 forecasts call for an endemic, the US federal government calls for mandatory COVID-19 vaccines and expanded demographic eligibility, and a first round of recalls is already underway. From development to distribution, the Fed pays and increases biopharmaceutical bills. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority’s Emergency Public Health and Human Services Fund alone allocates more than $ 50 billion for the development, manufacture and purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and supplies related until 2024. That does not include the tens of billions bombarded by the FDA, NIH, DOD and others. And it’s right here in the United States.
Amid the tragic consequences of COVID-19, vaccines are once again a big, sexy, federally-funded business – a Biocon and SILS lock arms to engage.
Box Scores of the major biopharmaceutical agreement
There is no guesswork involved in deciphering the intention behind the announcement an alliance between SILS, one of the largest producers of the Covishield vaccine, and Biocon. The latter is embarking on the burning vaccine sector and largely funded by the government through access to 100 million doses of vaccines produced by SILS per year for 15 years from 2023, and the rights to market the SILS vaccine portfolio. for global markets. In return, SILS obtains an approximate 15% stake in Biocon, valued just south of $ 5 billion. Biocon’s marketing rights will effectively enable 1,500,000,000 doses of the product to be placed on the market.
These aren’t all necessarily COVID-19 vaccines, mind you, so it’s too early to project Biocon’s return on investment. Basically, the purchase price of vaccines can range from around US $ ten per dose to around US $ 250 per dose, depending on the formulation and the purchaser, as prices vary widely between government and private sector buyers. . At either end of that spectrum, the math reveals an incredibly smart investment and mind-boggling returns for Biocon.
But there is more to the matter than a new vaccine distribution.
Biocon Plants Flag In Vaccines
The end of the Biocon deal goes beyond the distribution of the product made at SILS’s vaccine facility which will soon be live in Pune, India. The company is putting additional tokens on the vaccine development table, after announcing that it would establish, at its own expense, a vaccine research and development division to support the SILS alliance. It will also provide SILS with its cell culture and sterile filling / finishing capabilities.
SILS looks beyond its core competence
Under the terms of the alliance, Biocon and SILS also provide service level agreements for the collaborative manufacture and distribution of antibodies targeting infectious diseases like dengue, HIV, etc. This is a start for the vaccine-centric SILS.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SILS’s parent company, Serum Institute of India, said the complementary prophylactic / therapeutic nature of the vaccine / antibody alliance is ultimately aimed at addressing the inequitable access to commodities of both companies on emerging and developed markets.
The alliance paves the way for new crosses and collaborations between the two leading vaccine and antibody makers, and I suspect a steady stream of news to come detailing the efforts of the collaboration. Ultimately, the alliance is exemplary of a trend to be observed as the big biopharmacy reorganizes on COVID-19 learnings and in preparation for the next viral outbreak. The battle to prevent and treat infectious disease is fought on the backs of antibodies and vaccines, and we expect the lines between these distinct biotech companies to continue to blur.